How to avoid escalating conflict in tense situations
- What could cause conflicts during a pandemic?
- How to help employees deal with uncertainty?
- How to prevent conflicts in the workplace?
Tensions between coworkers are natural - not everyone we meet is our type, and we can’t build relationships with everyone. When we’re worried about our own health, our loved ones, and our finances, and when we have to deal with various restriction, these tensions may even increase. Especially these days, it’s worth trying not to aggravate differences between people or to provoke situations that threaten team cohesion.
Under normal circumstances, when we are healthy and well, most of us are able to manage our stress. We control our emotions and, most importantly, the way we react to others. When stress reduces our mental resilience, our ability to control our own reactions is also reduced. The situation that COVID has put us in, i.e. endless restrictions and requirements, create an excellent breeding ground for negative emotions, which may lead to new conflicts or exacerbate existing conflicts. The are also some things that naturally cause conflict, such as:
- personality differences - we come from different cultures and environments, we have different belief systems and values. Failing to understand or accept these differences can easily cause misunderstandings between people who could otherwise work together without conflict;
- different working styles - we often expect others to work the same way we do and don’t allow them to have a different idea of how to do something, according to how they were brought up and what skills and experiences they have. Such expectations often cause real problems in completing tasks and implementing projects;
- misunderstandings - when a problem remains unresolved for a long time, the conflict deepens. We begin to avoid each other, which leads to even greater misunderstandings;
- improper management - as leaders, we have a huge impact on the well-being and satisfaction of our employees. Without clear guidance, people lose their motivation and sense of purpose, which often works against leaders. How can we deal with that?
Taking care of ourselves
To lead others well, we need to be in good shape ourselves. Ask and it is given - reads one of the laws of attraction described by Esther and Jerry Hicks in the book of the same name. It suggests that we attract what we want, and if we don’t get it, we ourselves create resistance. That doesn’t mean, of course, that in a global pandemic, wishful thinking will miraculously protect us and our employees from negative consequences. The point is to direct our thoughts towards solutions even when the conditions are unfavourable, and even if it requires effort, because we only have real influence on our own thoughts and actions.
In practice, this translates into very simple things:
- cultivating awareness that the pandemic will eventually subside someday
- maintaining our existing habits, i.e. keeping our environment, our appearance, and our clothes, and ourselves clean and tidy,
- limit the time we spend listening to information from the media, instead focusing on facts rather than interpretations,
- focusing on the work we have to do - for people who continue to work remotely, this is a great opportunity to catch up,
- maintaining a positive internal dialogue, that is, avoiding negative messaging directed at ourselves, such as “you failed again”, “you’re useless”, “don’t even try, because it’s pointless”.
Only when we take care of our mental health and focus on solutions can we take care of others.
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